Why "71º & Sunny?"

I consider 71º to be the perfect temperature. Not too cold and not too hot. I also love perfect sunny days. The vast majority of days are not 71º & Sunny and yet, all days were created by God's hand and they are still gifts, even if they don't fit my ridiculous definition of perfection. My struggle with OCD has at times imprisoned me in an impossible attempt to achieve perfection. I'm now learning to love all kinds of days that don't even come close to 71º & Sunny.

Please leave me a comment below. I really want to know what you are thinking!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

It's Not About How We Feel

I wanted to share a post with you from a blogger named Jessica. She has truly great insight into her recovery process from OCD. Though I did not receive treatment at McLean Hospital, I could completely relate to what she said about finding her way back through the scary OCD forest. My absolute favorite part of her post is when she said, "At the end of the day it's not how you felt it's how you lived." (Emphasis mine.) Well said, Jessica. Very well said.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Wishing You a Real Christmas

So often, when people find out that I volunteer a significant amount of time at church, I can tell that they think it's a "nice" thing to do. Or that I must be really devoted to my "religion." Nah. What, or really, who, I am devoted to, is Jesus. Following Him is often not easy to do. I've had to make choices. I've had to, in essence, "draw lines in the sand" for myself. I do this because I believe with every fiber of my being that Jesus is real. He's not just a plastic figurine in a bundle of hay, laying on someone's front lawn for 4 weeks every December. He's more than a story. More than a memory. More than a myth.

Knowing this helps make sense of those stressful holidays, when the dinner is burned (or when a snowstorm knocks out the power and ruins your entire meal), or when you have to deal with that difficult relative again, or when a devastating and painful loss is amplified during this season that is supposed to be "the most wonderful time of the year." He's more than a memory. More than a myth.

I hope that you will find the joy and peace that comes from knowing the real One, the Holy One, the One that makes it all worthwhile. Jesus. Merry, blessed Christmas my friends.

"Real" by Nichole Nordeman

Frozen statues in the cold
Washed in moonlight, blue and gold
Mary's babe in plastic hay
Quiet wonder on her face
Mary you look so serene
Far too pretty, much too clean
We might think we know you well, but what stories would you tell?
Of all the dirt, and dust, and shame, every burning labor pain
And as I turn to walk away, I hear you say
I am real, don't turn me into memory or myth
Let me be real, real
And I'll show you what it means to love this
To be real

Shepherds bending to the ground, Bethlehem is safe and sound
Joseph, you look brave and true
But do we know what it was like to be you?
How many sleepless nights awake, found you desperate and afraid?
And as I turn to walk away, I hear you say
I am real, don't turn me into memory or myth
Let me be real, real
And I'll show you what it means to love like this

To love like you don't even care about the hurry and the hustle
Like you are unaware December comes with so much trouble
Cause you believe a Baby came, not in paintings or in plays
But every minute, every hour, every day
To be real
Real

You are real, real
Show us what it means to love like this
To be real, to be real
More than a memory, more than a story
Real

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

#GivingTuesday



In the United States, we have Black Friday and Cyber Monday. I participated in both. But now we have #GivingTuesday and I'm going to participate in that too. This is a day that was created to help balance out the highly materialistic aspect of the Christmas season. Giving Tuesday is about encouraging people to increase their charitable giving and to share a little about what causes they care about. I care about spreading the love of Jesus and I care about the pain that many people live with because of OCD. So today I'm donating to Missions of Hope International (an organization working to provide hope, education, vocational training, and the love of Christ to communities in Kenya) and to the International OCD Foundation. My donations are not big. But a lot of people giving a little bit can really add up!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

And The Back Story

Sorry guys. This is a bit of a long one.

Phew! I'm tired. What an autumn it has been. A little of it has been good, unfortunately, a lot of it not so good. I spent 5 hours in the Emergency Room two days ago, suffering from vomiting and severe nausea that just would not stop. It was awful. I'm very thankful to the nurses and doctors that helped me to feel better. I'm definitely better today, but still have some weakness and a lingering headache that I wish would go away.

I've also had a few other things going on that I've been struggling with, but I won't bore you with all of those details. I'm not going to sugar coat it though, it's been painful.

One big positive is that Jim's doctor believes he is in "deep-remission." That is huge and I'm so thankful. Because of that, the doctor suggested that Jim could stop taking his bi-monthly infusions if he chooses. But then, that means that there is nothing preventing Jim from getting another life threatening flare of Crohn's. Of course, I want him to stay on the meds, and Jim wants off. I'm terrified. Sigh.

Another good thing is that I got a part-time retail job (just for the holidays). It's my first paying job in over 16 years. I'm really thrilled about it, because it is a definite victory over the OCD. There were times when I thought I would never, ever be able to work again. Of course, the job brings up new obsessions and more things to be anxious about, but I'm trying to use my CBT/ERP skills, and overall, things are going very well.

But the big story in my life has been my baby, Fender. We first brought him home at the end of August. And 10 days later, we almost lost him. Yep, you read that right. I woke up on a Wednesday morning to find that he had a little blood in his stool, so I called the veterinarian and scheduled an appointment for later that day. While at the vet's office, she noticed that he had little bruises all over his body. She got concerned and decided to take some blood work. Imagine my shock when she came back to tell me that he had literally no platelets in his blood! Those little bruises? They were the result of internal bleeding caused by the fact that he had no ability to clot his blood. The vet told me that she had never seen a blood test result like that before. She then had me take him over to another animal hospital that had more sophisticated equipment. Thankfully, the medication they gave him kicked in and he was able to come home two days later with just the tiniest bit of platelets starting to form in his blood again. I'm very happy to say that all of his subsequent blood test results show a very normal and healthy puppy. However . . .

There are complications, of course. After taking every possible blood test known to man, the best conclusion that the 5 (count 'em, FIVE) vets that saw him can come to, is that he had an immune reaction to a vaccination that he received at 8 weeks of age. Which means: he can never receive another immunization again, or it might kill him. Which also means: he can never be kenneled or boarded, he can never have puppy playdates with another dog, just going to the vet for a checkup puts him at risk, and he will most likely die at a relatively young age from some (normally preventable) disease. I can never have him groomed, so we will have to do all of the grooming ourselves. I can't have friends watch him if we go out of town, if they own a dog. Let's face it, who will watch your dog but only someone else with a dog of their own? Yep. Definite life complications. Thank goodness for my parents. They have been literal life savers. This past weekend they watched Fender so that we could go to a wedding. More than that, they have just been overall super helpful during this most stressful period.

One of the biggest complications, though, was that I noticed in early September that, gulp, Fender had fleas! I thought I would die. Literally. If you have been reading this blog for any length of time, you will know that I have an absolute terrifying fear of bug/rodent infestations. This was beyond my worst nightmare. I did some research on treating/eliminating fleas, and the news was not good. I could not put any flea treatment on Fender because he was still recovering from his near death, and he was also on immune suppressing medications (ironically, just like my husband). We did not know what his reaction would be to the flea meds, so my vet told me not to use them. She also told me not to flea bomb the house for the same reason. In fact, she told me that the only thing we could do was to vacuum our entire house, every day, for the life cycle of the flea which is, 90 days. Seriously?! It takes me 2 hours to vacuum the entire house. 90 days???!! I did it for the first 7 out of 9 days. We just could not keep up. Jim and I were both physically and emotionally exhausted. I was worried sick about Fender's health, but I was also worried about Jim's health too. Because of Jim's own ill health, being exposed to flea bites (and any subsequent diseases they might carry) is just out of the question. But I'm deathly afraid of pesticides too, so a flea bomb was out of the question as well. I was also mortified about the possibility that I might pass fleas on to someone else and then they would have the same problem. It was the perfect OCD storm, and it is why I truly thought I was having a relapse.

About a week and a half later, I was able to bring Fender to a holistic vet, and after speaking with her about it, she agreed to help me find a flea treatment that was not as strong as most on the market. I put the treatment on him, and thankfully, he did not have a reaction. Oh I felt so much guilt about using that treatment! I thought for sure that I was killing him. Then she told me that since it had been a few weeks since I first noticed the fleas, and that because I had not seen another flea since that first day, the odds were good that I caught them early, and that I should just really give the house a super good cleaning once a week. Ok. Now that I could live with.

December 5th will be 90 days. But I'm pretty sure at this point that we do not have fleas. I've literally not seen one since that very first day I noticed them. We washed Fender with Dawn dish soap and literally tore through the house like crazy to wash everything down right away, so it looks like we did indeed get them early. I also had tons of friends praying for me (thank you!) and I'm certain that the Lord carried me through this terrible, terrible time.

And so . . . we try to move forward. With all the uncertainty that life continues to throw our way. Honestly, the only thing I am certain of, is God's love for me. And for you.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Hello Everyone! I'd Like You To Meet . . .

Fender! Our 4 1/2 month old Maltese puppy! (We named him after Jim's favorite electric guitar - the Fender Stratocaster - tee hee. We like to call him our "rock 'n roll" puppy.)

Fender has been home with us since the last week of August, and I had planned on sharing this news with you a lot sooner - but oh is there a back story to all of this! And I will indeed tell you that story soon, but for now, we just wanted to say hello.

This is the day that we chose Fender. He was 8
weeks old. He would not come home for
another 2 weeks.

And . . . this is the day he came home!

His first car ride in his new car seat! (Yes, I am
that crazy dog lady with a car seat.)
He is 10 weeks in this picture.

I like to title this look "Sherlock Bones." All he needs is a little chapeau.

This picture is from approximately one month ago.

We already love him to pieces and he has become a treasured member of our family. Let's just say that he has VERY devoted "dog grandparents" ha! He can absolutely be a little rascal (think: the dog ate my homework) but he is also a sweet cuddle bug and we are very thankful for having him in our lives.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

OCD Awareness Week, Day 2

Today, my mom, Nicky, and I went to the Massachusetts State House for an OCD Awareness luncheon.

You know, if a person doesn't know what is wrong with them, it's awfully hard to get proper treatment. That's why awareness is so important. It was exciting to hear that the IOCDF is working with the Massachusetts State Legislature to increase awareness of OCD and access to treatment. And this is how the barriers to recovery get removed. One little piece at a time.

1) My Mom and I, 2) The MA State House,
3) Jeff Szymanski, PhD, Executive Director, IOCDF,
& 4) my new OCD MA awareness t-shirt

Monday, October 13, 2014

OCD Awareness Week, Day 1

Hey everyone! It's OCD Awareness Week and I'm going to post just a little tidbit every day this week in honor of this auspicious occasion. #OCDweek

Taken from today's The Telegraph:

"OCD is the poor cousin of mental health in that people tend to joke about it and trivialize the suffering of those living with it, says Ashley Fulwood, Chief Executive of OCD-UK. "But it is a serious illness and it can lead to tragic consequences."